Simon Whitlock has admitted that he would be ‘pretty disappointed’ if he wasn’t handed a wildcard invitation for next year’s Premier League.
‘The Wizard’ has not appeared in the showcase event since 2014, when he was relegated on Judgement Night after registering just five points from nine games. He then endured a slump which saw him plummet to 20th in the world, but he has regained his place in the world’s top ten after enjoying an impressive revival in the last 18 months.
Whitlock, a Premier League finalist back in 2012, has won five Pro Tour titles since September last year, and also reached his first major TV final since 2013 in October’s World Grand Prix, where he lost out to Daryl Gurney in a thrilling final set. This saw him reclaim his spot in the world’s top ten.
The Australian kicked off his World Championship campaign with a battling 3-1 win over German youngster Martin Schindler last Wednesday, overcoming a bout of flu to book his spot in the second-round. However, when discussing his Premier League aspirations, the two-time world finalist was in bullish mood.
“I think it all depends on this tournament. I need to go deep in this. If they’re not looking at me I don’t know why not, I mean I’ve had a great last 18 months. In a lot of tournaments I’ve lost to Van Gerwen when I’ve been playing well, like semi’s and quarter-finals in European events and TV events. I’d be pretty disappointed if I didn’t get in.”
Whitlock will face Darren Webster in round-two at the Ally Pally, in a repeat of last year’s clash. Webster produced an imperious display to whitewash ‘The Wizard’ 4-0 on that occasion, but Whitlock is confident of enjoying a good run, particularly given the shock departure of Adrian Lewis, who he was scheduled to meet in the last 16.
“Adrian’s had a bit of a rough year, he’s had a few problems. He’s changed darts now which I don’t think worked for him, that’s my opinion. He’s gone to number 19 or 20 in the world now which is not going to do him any favours and now he’s going to go through the same thing I went through two years ago when I dropped to number 20.
Whitlock insisted that Lewis will return to the upper echelons of the game, but warned that it may not be an instant fix for the Stoke star, adding: “It’s very hard to get back. He’s a class player, he will be back. I absolutely guarantee Adrian Lewis will get back in the top five or six, but it’s going to take him time. It will be at least two years I would say.”
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC